During the first week of July, more than two-thirds of the 1,300 refugees stopped at the Swiss-Italian border were sent back to Italy by Swiss officials. Now the refugees are gathering together and stretching resources in the border town of Como, charity workers say.
In the past few weeks, the lakeside town full of celebrity villas inhabited by the likes of George Clooney has also seen hundreds of migrants converging at the train station, some having been sent away from Switzerland and others on their way north.
Police report having seen some individuals in the train tunnel linking Como to the Swiss town of Chiasso, trying to cross over on foot, Como Caritas charity director Roberto Bernasconi told the Swiss News Agency SDA.
The situation in Como could worsen if Switzerland continues to send migrants back to Italy in such high numbers, Bernasconi warned. Under the terms of the Dublin agreement, Switzerland may send migrants back to their country of entry into Europe. Countries may also send asylum seekers back to countries where they have previously registered for asylum.
Since 2009, Switzerland has sent back the most migrants of any European country under the Dublin accord, most of those to Italy.
According to Bernasconi, most of the migrants gathered in Como come from African countries such as Mali, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
Most migrants coming to Switzerland arrive by boat via the Mediterranean and Italy, a route that tends to be most frequented in the summer months. According to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration, 79,200 individuals arrived in Italy via this route between January 1 and July 13 of this year, compared to 70,329 between January and the end of June last year.